History - Meet the Milaeger Family


After 50 years, many stories have been generated about our family business, so it seems appropriate to set the story straight about who we are.

Daniel F. Milaeger was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Minnie and John Milaeger in 1925. At the onset of the Depression, the family moved to Racine, just 20 miles south of Milwaukee, to live with Minnie's folks until times got better. Immediately after high school graduation, Dan was drafted into the Army. He served in the Air Corps until the war ended in 1945. Returning to Racine, he married Joan Erickson, the Wind Point Lighthouse keeper's daughter in 1947.

In 1950, Dan built an 8' x 12' greenhouse in the couples backyard. Joan and Dan grew vegetables, flowers and bulbs for their own pleasure and sold any excess plants to neighbors. Dan and Joan tried farming a small plot, growing potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, and other food crops to peddle door to door. In 1959, deciding that being at the mercy of the weather was too difficult, they purchased a two-acre parcel on Douglas Avenue and erected a 30' x 90' used greenhouse.

The first commercial crop produced in the greenhouse was what was then called "hothouse tomatoes". The following spring brought annuals and geraniums - the first crops offered at retail. Dan and Joan's love for both plants and people was apparent and the little business flourished. Dan built a store in 1961, and the couple added greenhouses as money permitted.

The present Racine store was built in 1970, and has seen many additions and renovations. The Atrium serves as an entryway to a home store on the left and a garden store on the right.

Our Sturtevant location was added in 1978 and underwent extensive remodeling with greenhouse additions and a magnificent Atrium in 2005. The store carries all of the giftware, home accessories, and garden items that the Racine store offers and receives fresh plant material from the Racine greenhouses on a daily basis.

History Dan and Joan     Dan and Joan Milaeger retired in 2000. Although they were both greenhouse growers at heart, they always attended to the needs to their customers and developed lifelong relationships with many, many people. Milaeger's is currently operated by the second generation family members, Kristine and her husband Daniel, and Kevin Milaeger, all of whom have worked fulltime for the company since the early 70's.

   
Dan and Joan's daughter, Kris, the company President, oversees store operations, buying, special events, and advertising.

Dan, Kris' husband, is a landscape architect for the company. He oversees the landscape, lawn, tree and shrub care, irrigation and maintenance divisions. Click here for more details.
 
Milaeger son, Kevin, oversees greenhouse and store operations; his plant expertise is nationally known. Click here to read his blog.
KrisDanKevin
   
Kara and Philip   Kris and Dan's daughter, Kara, was raised at Milaeger's from the day she was three
weeks old. After getting her college degree in horticulture, she joined the Milaeger staff as head of annuals, director of custom container gardens, giftware, apparel, and footwear buyer, Patricia Breen consultant, and head of Internet sales. Her latest project is the Great Lakes Farmers Market and our new CSA shares program.

 Also part of the family business, her husband, Philip, who has a degree in interior design, buys patio furniture, garden goods, and home décor items for Milaeger's. Philip works at the Sturtevant location and helps with store layout, design, and also does on site design work.  He is most famously known for his amazing design and creativity of outdoor container plantings for all seasons, especially Christmas.
   
David, son of Kevin, loves to be in the greenhouses. Currently, David helps develop our Fresh Campaign of growing lettuces, herbs and microgreens for year round availability. This aspect of our business is continuing to grow as David works to provide more availability to our customers of fresh, local produce.

Elsa, David's wife, works on the nursery lot and is a landscape designer. She also assists in the Design department, decorating for events and holidays.
David and Elsa 2014
   
We're glad you took the time to "Meet the Milaegers". Most often, you will find us in our stores or greenhouses, working with our customers. You can be confident that there is always easy access to someone from the Milaeger family who truly cares about you and is grateful for your patronage and loyalty.

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